The other day I was shopping at Target, trying to decide on Post-its, when I overheard the following random bit of conversation:
“So after high school she moved to Alabama, where she met this guy on MySpace and got pregnant.”
There are so many things inherently wrong with that sentence, but one thing in particular made me look up from the neon-green sticky notes.
Who the hell still uses MySpace?
Besides up-and-coming bands, comedians and adult film stars, that is? Seriously, even your mom’s moved over to Facebook already.
The proof: MySpace lost 10 million users in January alone, dropping from 73 million users to 63 million, according to ComScore, a company that analyses and measures Internet usage.
And, insult to injury, in January MySpace also cut 47 percent of its staff. Now Rupert Murdoch, the site’s current owner, is seeking to sell his company for $100 million. That’s considerably less than the $580 million his News Corp. paid for it in 2005, when the site was still at top of the social-networking heap.
Not surprisingly, he’s had no takers so far.
While I still occasionally listen to a band’s music via MySpace, it’s been so long since I’ve logged into my own account that I no longer remember its password, and the email account once associated with it no longer exists.
When I typed in my page’s URL, however, I realized not much had changed: The layout’s still clunky and confusing, my so-called “top friends” list remains static and Tom is still using that same stupid profile pic.
And that’s at least part of the problem. Aside from various tweaks, MySpace hasn’t changed much since its 2003 inception, even as the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare emerged and evolved, faster, sleeker and better plugged in.
Or, to be more specific, it hasn’t changed in the right ways.
Initially, MySpace improved upon its predecessor Friendster (which debuted in 2002) with customizable profiles, music plug-ins and blog functions.
(Friendster, which apparently still exists, now bills itself as a “social gaming site.” Somehow, I still have an account there.)
Millions embraced the site as a way to connect with friends, finding it a new and fun way to share news, photos and videos, and even, thanks to a bevy of cute icons, updates on our ever-changing moods.
By 2008, however, what we once loved about MySpace (that gadgetry, the message boards, those “mood” indicators) mutated into what we hated about it: creaky usability hindered by clunky media players and migraine-inducing layouts.
And so we migrated, en masse, to Facebook and then Twitter. Both sites, we realized, offer real-time conversations, easy messaging and chat functions and the democratization of relationships—no friend ranking here.
All this without flashing, animated gifs and relentlessly in-your-face porn-star boobs.
It’s not to say that modern social media is without its drawbacks. (Facebook privacy concerns, anyone?) But MySpace has completely failed to keep up in an industry in which platforms must constantly metamorphose in order to stay relevant.
A few years ago, MySpace attempted to change directions, emphasizing the site as an entertainment portal rather than a social-networking hub. It didn’t work, obviously, and in the years since the Internet has evolved from a place where MySpace creates D-list stars out of Tila Tequila to a world in which Twitter destroys the once-promising political career of an idiot such as Anthony Weiner.
Still, perhaps Murdoch shouldn’t give up hope just yet—it could be a while, years even, for the site to completely disappear into the Internet void.
There are, after all, people who still use AOL.